In the last 19 years, there have been only two public schools in the state of Washington to win the 1A girls’ soccer state championship — Meridian (2007) and Klahowya (2014) — and only six times has a public school even reached the finals.
Cascade has done so three times, including this season, along with Cashmere, who reached the title game in 2011.
But other than that, bupkis.
Public schools can’t seem to break the hold that private schools have over girls’ soccer. Over the past 19 years, 54 of the 76 teams in the Final Four have been private even though they represent just a quarter of the total schools in 1A.
It’s a situation that screams unfairness and has created frustration among parents whose kids are forced to compete against athletes that are recruited like a college program.
The enrollment might be similar, but imagine the team Wenatchee could put together if there was a private school that pulled Cashmere’s Diaz sisters, Clare Norman, Grace Hammond, Cascade’s Kascia Muscutt, Alexa Rodgers, Devan Archer, Stella Johnson, Eastmont’s Jayden Brown, Tess Sparks, Megan Chandler and Wenatchee’s Ireland Knipfer, Halle Stegeman and Maddy Smith.
I’m guessing they would be a tough out.
That’s basically what Cascade, Cashmere, Freeman, Lakeside, Deer Park and Connell — the top public school soccer programs — are up against whenever they get deep into the state tournament. The competitive balance is an absolute joke.
And this seems to be an issue nationwide.
In 2017, the National Federation of State High Schools Association (NFHS) published an article that discussed how 21 states employ a multiplier to help level the playing field among public and private schools.
In Indiana, for instance, their athletic association — equivalent to the WIAA — instituted a “success” factor where schools would earn a point for a sectional-championship, two for a regional-championship, three for a second-place finish and four for a state title. If a school reaches six points or greater during a two-year cycle they are promoted (in that sport) to the next available enrollment class for the next cycle.
If the school achieves another six points, it moves up again.
A school only moves down a classification if it fails to achieve four points during a cycle.
The success factor was put into place in Indiana during the 2013-14 school year and made a huge difference. After the first two years, 13 private schools and 13 public schools were reclassified. Schools that had steamrolled their competition for years were finally promoted into a higher class where they could compete against kids similar to their talent level.
I’m not saying that is exactly the case here — it’s not like Cascade, Cashmere or the other public schools are being blown away when they make it all the way to the finals — but it would squash the chance of Kings, La Salle or Seattle Academy running the table every year and allow more opportunity for the public schools.
Considering how widespread the classifications of private schools in the state (with a total of 62 schools ranging from 1B-4A as of 2016) the idea of separating leagues into private and public is nonsensical. But a success factor would apply to every school — private, public or charter — in every classification.
Is it a perfect solution? No. There are always going to be competition level issues. But it seems a helluva lot better than the system the WIAA has in place now.